The Map of Lost Memories, Paperback Book

The Map of Lost Memories Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (10 ratings)


The one thing to remember about an adventure is that if it turns out the way you expect it to, it has not been an adventure at all ...Shanghai, 1925.Irene, a museum curator (and, unofficially, a treasure hunter) is searching for a set of legendary copper scrolls which describe the forgotten history of Cambodia's ancient Khmer civilisation.

Her mentor has sent her to China to enlist the help of Simone, a mercurial Frenchwoman who - along with her notoriously violent husband, 'the most dangerous man in the Orient' - has a reputation for both stealing artefacts and starting revolutions.

Irene and Simone set off through the Cambodian jungle to search for the scrolls, but it soon becomes clear that each is determined to acquire them for her own reasons, and that once they have located them it will be every woman for herself ...Gripping, evocative, lavish and thrilling, this is an unforgettable book that was listed as one of Amazon's top 100 Breakthrough Novels before it was even finished.


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Showing 1 - 5 of 10 reviews.

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Irene Blum works at the Brooke Museum for Oriental Art in Seattle and has nursed a passion for the ancient Khmer civilisation of Cambodia her entire life, since she was a little girl growing up in the museum where her father was the nightwatchman. Having to deal with a professional disappointment, she decides to find a lost temple in the Cambodian jungle, along with its ten copper scrolls said to contain a history of the Khmer, with the help of an old diary and map and the support of Mr Simms, her guardian and parents' friend. He sends her off to China, which is in the grip of the Second Chinese Revolution (1925), to enlist the help of Frenchwoman Simone, another expert on the Khmer. Together they make plans to set out into the jungle on the expedition of a lifetime, but things do not go as expected ...I jumped at the chance to review this book, which was "listed as one of Amazon's top 100 Breakthrough Novels before it was even finished", and which promised evocative settings and "extraordinary" prose, not to mention an opportunity to meet a female Indiana Jones. One reason I love participating in the Vine programme is that I feel free to try books that lie outside my usual sphere of reading interests, and this was one of them. Set in exotic locations such as Shanghai, Saigon and Phnom Penh, and in a time period that I know next to nothing about, this felt like a journey into the unknown. The first few chapters set the scene and introduce the protagonists, but there was little evidence of the extraordinary prose that had been promised, and they seemed to drag, as there was a lot of dialogue and description, but not much happening. The introduction of the love interest was done in quite a dilettante and obvious way and showed the author's lack of experience in my opinion (this is her first novel). After about 50 pages her style became more confident, the prose more refined and her characters more complex and credible. Kim Fay's descriptions of the various locations are very atmospheric, and I could feel the heat and humidity and experience the melting pot of cultures in Shanghai and Saigon and the unearthly beauty of the lost temple complex in the jungle. The author explores the profound effect the search for the lost scrolls is having on each of the protagonist's characters and the volatile personal relationships that develop in the course of the expedition, as well as the explosive political situations in China and Cambodia, yet I could never quite root for any of the characters, and the only time real suspense was created in my opinion was when the expedition was facing the dangers of the Cambodian jungle and the hostilities of a remote mountain tribe. Highly ambitious and incredibly well researched, the novel is more concerned with the journey rather than the destination, but the ending was a little bit too neat in my opinion. For a first novel, though, this is an excellent effort, and I'm certain Kim Fay's name will be one to watch.(This review was originally written as part of Amazon's Vine programme.)

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I really wanted to like this book. The premise behind the book is intriguing -- what really happened to the civilization that created Angkor Wat? However, this book just wallowed. The characters spent 3/4 of the book discussing going to Cambodia, and then once they got there, they wallowed around some more. I finally got so frustrated I didn't care what happened at the end! I also found the repeated plotlines related to Communism to be misplaced and drew attention away from the "original" plot.

Review by

Set in 1925, this sophisticated, character-rich adventure begins in the Pacific Northwest, but most of the action takes place in the politically charged city of Shanghai and dense, steamy jungles of Cambodia, home of the ancient Khmer empire. Irene Blum is sure she is going to be put in charge of the Seattle museum she felt owed its success to her resolute, behind the scenes and not always legal acquisitions work, but a man with a degree is chosen in her place. Determined to prove her worth, she sets off for Southeast Asia on a quest to find a set of scrolls believed to chronicle the forgotten history of the Khmer civilization. Irene’s mentor and sponsor Henry Simms is dying and she’s driven to find the scrolls quickly while he can still enjoy the discovery. Guided by him Irene puts together an expedition team, including her enigmatic new lover, a drug addicted revolutionary and a renowned Khmer researcher, but long before they begin the arduous trek into the jungle in search of the forgotten temple said to contain the scrolls, it’s clear the conflicting motivations of the team could lead to violence. While Irene wants to take the scrolls to the United States to set up a new museum she can curate, others want them to be left alone, or kept in Cambodia to be studied there, or sold to finance anti-colonial groups working to overthrow the French. Besides having an exciting story, The Map of Lost Memories is more substantial than some other thrillers I’ve read, exploring the inner motivations of its multi-dimensional characters and immersing the reader in the diverse culture, transitioning politics and exotic landscapes of 1920’s Southeast Asia.

Review by

As much as I enjoy historical fiction, The Map of Lost Memories was a fairly large disappointment. Irene Blum has just been passed over for the curator position at the Brooke museum where she has dedicated her life to the renewal and advance of the museum. Among her dead father's treasures is a map that will lead her to Camboida in search of value copper scrolls.I found the book hard to get into and didn't keep my attention enough to finish it. Perhaps another time or maybe it just isn't my cup of tea.

Review by

Irene Blum has just been passed over for the only position she feels qualified for, as the curator of the Brooke museum where she was basically raised. To prove her worth and qualification as a curator, she heads to Cambodia to solve a centuries old mystery surrounding the fall of the Khmer empire and find out truths about her history as well.While the setting and ambiance of The Map of Lost Memories is compelling, set amidst the communist revolution of Shanghai, China and the French colonial invasion of Cambodia, ultimately the plot does not live up to the setting. The characters are fairly one dimensional, swinging from emotion to emotion with little motivation, and the "mystery" that supposedly propels the story falls very flat. Very disappointing, as it had much promise.

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